Yinkaya Village New Well Project

Regional Program:
Port Loko, Sierra Leone WaSH Program

Latitude 8.59
Longitude -13.15

83 Served

Project Status:

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"The training was a pleasant welcome to save me."

Momoh Modugba Yillah

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Stories and Community Profile

Ebola’s Impact

Ebola has been a tragic reality for the people of Sierra Leone over the last two years. Though considered stable at the moment, the country is still very cautious.

Our teams have remained safe and are on the front lines of Ebola prevention through this water, hygiene and sanitation program.  Your support acknowledges and celebrates their selfless work and bravery.

The entire team continues to express their gratitude for your support of communities in Sierra Leone, and we can’t wait to celebrate safe water together!

Welcome to the Community

This is a predominantly Islamic community that starts its day at 5 am to wash up and head out to the quarry. At the quarry they break stones, the only kind of work these people know. There should be time for prayers between washing and working, but people sometimes skip prayers because the quarry site where they break stones is so competitive. Prayers are instead held off until later. The children, with no school in their own village, walk two miles to the only school in the area. The children carry their uniforms in their bags and change after getting to school. They arrive for classes just in time, often missing devotions because of the long walk.

This is such a poor community that children cannot focus in school; they are more worried about how to help their families earn money on their return home. What they eat depends on this. Students are let out of school at 2:30 pm, but the walk home takes an hour. A marathon begins when they arrive at the village! With a change of clothes already in their bags, children rarely return to their houses but instead head to the quarry to find mom and dad. With the hot African sun on their backs, they spend four hours transporting stones to where vehicles can easily access them. What is cooked for the day depends on whether the stones pulled and transported are enough for a full trip. It normally takes two weeks to earn the equivalent of thirty dollars.

Water Situation

Life is very, very difficult in this village. They presently get their water from either the stream or the swamp where they’ve dug a hole to access dirty water. With no other options, everyone in the village drinks this kind of water. They live with constant stomachaches, typhoid, and worms.

Walking along a rough footpath only eight inches wide, susceptible to snake bites along the way: these are the dangers children and women face more than ten times a day to and from the swamp. Within four feet from the three-foot-deep hole, shoes are taken off, lest a person risk sliding in. Standing with feet spread wide apart, a child will proceed to perform a “touch your toes” routine to bail water with a small container. This water is poured into a larger container at the dug hole. The process takes only a few minutes, but then the real wait begins; waiting for someone to come and help hoist the oversized water containers up onto their heads. Women and children always try to fetch water in groups to avoid not having someone to help. Children often carry containers much too large, putting immense pressure on their spinal cords during the walk home. The way back is much more dangerous as their eyes can no longer focus on the foot path. To scare off a potential threat along the roadside, the children and women will loudly sing their melodious cultural songs. These loud songs and large groups of women and children will also deter sexual predators.

The average person carries a 10-gallon water container. These are cleaned with grass from the swamp that makes a foam that resembles soap suds. These seem to work very well.

Once home, the milky substance from the swamp has to settle before water can be used for anything. The water is normally left out in the open on the ground in the front room. A lot of people in this village have domesticated animals ranging from chickens, goats, sheep, to dogs and cats. The animals have a free reign of the water when no humans are supervising. The milky color never fades unless it is the rainy season when the water is clear, cold and good to drink. Indeed, “there is no need to cover the water, you will say your prayers and close your eyes before you drink!” says Thaimu Kamara, both farmer and chairperson from the quarry.

The shortage of a safe water source has led to some families moving to other villages. They only come back to Yinkaya Village to tend their farms. Ailments range from malaria, typhoid, abdominal pains and diarrhea to frequent vomiting by children and adults alike. People also get worms in their bellies. The fevers, constant headaches and eye infections are from a lack of clean water to maintain personal hygiene. Little fragments of tiny stone dust fly into the eyes of stone-breakers, and by the day’s end their faces are covered in red. Use dirty water to wash dirty faces, and the eye infections continue.

Sanitation Situation

Seventy-five percent of local families have pit latrines. The others use the nearby bushes. The stone-breakers, from sunup to sundown, are at the quarry. The latrines in the village are palm leaves braided together around a pit. The pit latrines have no roofs, so in the rainy season when nature calls, people use Lapa (a piece of African cloth) to cover their heads.

To fight the open defecation issue, we will address it during hygiene and sanitation training. If there is any disbelief when the problem is presented, participants will be taken on a transect walk around the community. They will be able to see for themselves as well as learn valuable lessons that result from valuable discussions!

A large portion of the villagers are illiterate. It is very difficult to change the mindset of individuals who have held on to certain beliefs for a lifetime. A majority of households only have one cup for over eight people to drink with. The face, skin tone and discoloration, and bloated stomachs are the telltale signs of worm ingestion. Farmer and stone-breaker Thaimu Kamara says, “Look at my eyes, look at my children’s stomachs. This is a crisis. The hard labor, not enough food, no clean water; all contribute to residents leaving to find greener pasture. The day-to-day exposure to the hot African sun breaking stones has left us with glaucoma, cataracts, and cornea damage. We need divine intervention.” Though only age 36, he looks more like 56.

Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training

Hygiene and sanitation training will take three days, scheduled for up to three hours a day during the best time for as many as possible. We will need to work very closely with the community in order to get a good turnout.

One of the most visible results will be the hand-washing stations that each household learns to construct. This special but simple form of hand-washing station is called the “tippy-tap.” The tippy-taps are easy to build and easy to maintain. A one-gallon rubber is tied to a stick with nylon rope. The soap is wrapped with fishing net to keep it dry and free from contaminants. The price of a bar of soap is one thousand Leones; the equivalent of ten American cents. Since this is an extremely poor community and we will need to entice them to attend training, we will probably provide all of the necessary materials such as the one-gallon containers. Most people in this village would strain to come up with the money to purchase a one-gallon container.

Plans: New Well

The new well will be located in the center of the village at the largest gathering point, the mosque. It is the most convenient for all, and is the furthest away from latrines and any other contamination sources.

We will be using the LS200 hydraulic rig with 4000 psi power, which can dig over one hundred feet. It is very easy to maneuver. It is also very cost effective and does not require an Ivy League knowledge to operate. Since this is a mud rotary drilling machine and water is a huge issue in this village, we will have water brought in by tanker and poured into a tank so we have the water necessary for drilling. After the well is drilled and constructed, an India Mark II pump will be installed.

Project Videos

Project Photos

Recent Project Updates

12/19/2017: A Year Later: Yinkaya Village

A year ago, generous donors helped build a new well with the Yinkaya Village in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Madieu Turay, with you.

The Water Project : 5084_yar_4

09/30/2016: Yinkaya Village New Well Project Complete

We are excited to share that the new well in Yinkaya Village is now providing clean water for the surrounding community. Locals no longer have to risk their lives to fetch dirty water from a swamp that sits at the end of a dangerous path! Hygiene and sanitation training was also conducted, which focused on healthy practices such as washing hands and using latrines. This water and new knowledge give the community a great foothold in eliminating water and sanitation-related illness. Please enjoy this update detailing all the work that was done in Yinkaya Village, and make sure to click on the “See Photos & Video” tab above to find new pictures of the finished project.

Thank You for unlocking potential in this community. You made clean water a reality, and now you have a chance to make sure it keeps flowing. Join our team of monthly donors and help us maintain this well and hundreds of other projects!

Project Result: New Knowledge

Hygiene and sanitation training was held under a mango tree at the house of the local headman. It happened that the mangos were falling off with ripeness, so our team got to indulge a bit! Community members were notified ahead of time about the training schedule to ensure the best turnout possible. It was easy to find everyone at once; one trip to the stone-breaking pit, and we could make a group announcement. People are breaking stones from sunup to sundown, earning their daily bread. This work is so taxing and the area so impoverished, that a runaway family member is a common occurrence.

Considering that only 83 people occupy this village, training attendance was acceptable. 33 community members responded to our announcement, most of who built dish racks ahead of training to show their eagerness for clean water.

We began with the most important topic, hand-washing. We made hand-washing stations together out of jerrycans, ropes, and sticks. Then, we could use these to teach how and when to wash hands.

8 sierraleone5084 training

The following excerpt is a quote straight from the training facilitator:

The people drink water that resembles heated milk. It is easy for me to judge, how about if it was me that was left with no option? If I could only imagine how it must feel to have nothing in my mind but to break stones, what would become of me? I come in properly dressed to convince someone that has not worn more than one piece of clothing over the course of his entire adult life; think how I will be received? I went to the site of the stone diggers, and what I saw was appalling: skin covered with red dirt, along with the eyes, what people here are exposed to on a day to day basis, some of us cannot tolerate for an hour! Pulling teeth is easier than to teach how to wash hands to someone who is not accustomed to it. I remember as a child washing hands was a luxury; when offered food, your classmates would encourage you to find water to wash hands. The rice would be finished by the time you come back! We are here to see what new steps we will take. Teaching is one thing, but we need to come down to the people to teach and encourage them to live a better life by the way we lead. The over eighty people with less than five latrines! We have spent more time in this village than any other village this year.

14 sierraleone5084 training

I assessed the training was a success because of two life changing developments: the construction of dish racks and latrines. I know the people are tired of drinking milky water without the benefits of milk. Children with bloated stomachs is a trademark more common than three square meals.

We met Momoh Modugba Yillah, who attended our hygiene and sanitation training. He is one of the many stone breakers in this village. He shared his testimony, saying:

I always feel I have not been dealt a fair hand, then again what is a fair hand? Is a fair hand giving birth to a bouncing baby boy but two years later I can no longer walk by myself? I have have been told I am a curse or the work of the devil. I am thirty-two years old now, and I would never wish on my worst enemy what has happened to me and my family. The worst time of my life came when my younger brother was born with a hump back. Shunned by family, laughed at by everyone; the lowest point of my life. …but God brought me a gift of water and salvation. I attended the three training sessions.. and I heard cleanliness is next to godliness. It might just work to redeem myself and family! The training was a pleasant welcome to save me.

4 sierraleone5084 training

Project Result: New Well

The well construction process began on July 16th.

This well is actually the second well we tried to drill in this community. It is located across the road from the mosque and down away from the road a bit. Our first attempt was drilled right at the mosque. We thought we had a good well and went ahead and constructed the pad, installed the pump base and constructed the wall around the well. We then went back to do the yield test and the well was practically dry. We could not leave this community without water! Their lives are so hard and their cultural beliefs in the devil, witchcraft and that the village is cursed, etc; we just had to come back. Between the first and second attempts, our team continued visiting the village and encouraging people that they had not been forgotten.

25 sierraleone5084 drilling

Two identical holes for extracted drilling refuse were dug a few feet away from the drill rig. People said the witches would not allow a well to be dug in the village, but we decided to persevere. The drill is equipped with a hydraulic system able to dig depths of over a hundred feet. The eight pipes were put in place after the digging with a mixture of bentanite and cement to hold them in place and to prevent the well from collapsing. The well was bailed and a yield test was conducted using a submersible electric pump. The yield test was successful this time! The pump wall was made immediately, with the pump installed and dedication scheduled.

30 sierraleone5084 construction

The community helped us by building an access road to the site. Since it was the rainy season, they also helped build a tent to go over the drill. All the while, local men helped us keep our machinery secure.

The two disabled brothers were blamed for the first well’s failure, the other neighbors saying they brought a curse to Yinkaya Village. This second well’s success vindicated the brothers. The happiest people in the crowd were these two brothers, smiling like they just won the lottery. It was a cloudy day for our dedication ceremony, but the rains held off for just enough time. There was great amazement that the white man and his crew of locals had broken the curse! The day of this ceremony there was singing, dancing, and rejoicing; it was amazing!

The Water Project : 37-sierraleone5084-dedication

07/05/2016: Yinkaya New Well Project Underway

We are excited to announce that, thanks to your willingness to help, Yinkaya Community in Sierra Leone will soon have a new source of safe, clean water. A new well is being constructed and the community will receive training in sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the difference these resources will make for this community.

We just posted an initial report from our partner in the field including information about the community, GPS coordinates, and pictures. We’ll keep you posted as the work progresses.

Thank You for caring for the thirsty!

The Water Project : 3-sierraleone5084-carrying-water

Monitoring Data

Project Type:  Borehole Well and Hand Pump
Location:  Lungi, Yinkaya Village, Port Loko, Sierra Leone
ProjectID: 5084
Install Date:  08/30/2016

Monitoring Data
Water Point:
Last Visit: 04/10/2018

Visit History:
09/26/2016 — Functional
11/28/2016 — Functional
01/20/2017 — Functional
04/07/2017 — Functional
07/11/2017 — Functional
10/13/2017 — Functional
01/20/2018 — Functional
04/10/2018 — Functional

A Year Later: Yinkaya Village

November, 2017

As a student, we are the most beneficial students in this community through this water project, as we practice hygiene at home and school.

A year ago, generous donors helped build a new well with the Yinkaya Village in Sierra Leone. Because of these gifts and contributions from our monthly donors, partners can visit project sites throughout the year, strengthening relationships with communities and evaluating the actual water project. These consistent visits allow us to learn vital lessons and hear amazing stories – we’re excited to share this one from our partner, Madieu Turay, with you.

As of my own observation, this community has benefited a lot from this water project as compared to the unsafe water they were drinking before the existence of this project in their community. I am presently seen some new houses in this community. When we first went to this village, it was starving. The air was dry and filled with dust. It’s inhabitants were working in the dusty quarry. Disabled people were also working alongside the others. This was their plight. Many people said this village was taken over by witches because of the poor lifestyle. Things have changed! Since this project came to this community, this community is now boasting safe and pure drinking water.

Improvement in this community is more better than some communities. All the people in this community engage themselves in stone breaking. Hygiene and sanitation of this community is better than the previous years. I saw tippy taps, rubbers, kitchen, dish racks, cloth line and bath shelter.

Head man Thaimu Kamara shared how life has changed for him and his community since the new well was constructed. “The biggest changes since the coming of this project in our community are as follows: Before my wife was cooking late at around 8:00pm but now, she cooked my food in the middle of the day at twelve o’clock. We are drinking safe and pure water and not going to the swamp to fetch water. We are not laundering at the swamp any more or taking showers there. Students are not going late to school anymore and we are boastful of the safe drinking water that we have in our community.”


“Before the coming of this water project in this community water borne diseases affected our community,” Thaimu continued. “But since the intervention of this water project in this community, we are not encountering any water borne diseases. The health situation in our community is much more better than before. We always practice what they told us in the hygiene training, and all what they told us is true. Hand washing is our motto in this community.”

16-year-old Aminata Yillah shared her experience as well. “As a student, we are the most beneficial students in this community through this water project, as we practice hygiene at home and school. Now that we have this project in our door steps, I launder my uniform every day from school. I take shower before and after school every day not like before. Before, we drank swamp water but now we drink safe water and are not going to school late.”

I visited this community and see tippy taps, toilet, kitchen, dish racks and cloth line around. The hygiene training that we conducted in this community has made positive impact in their life. We will continue to support the repair and maintenance when necessary and the monitoring and evaluation of this well and community.

The Water Project and our partners are committed to consistent monitoring of each water source. Our monitoring and evaluation program, made possible by monthly donors, allows us to visit communities up to 4 times a year. Read more about our program and how you can help.


Project Underwriter - Potomac Heights Baptist Church
The Charles and Gail Muskavitch Endowment Fund
Baker Hughes Foundation
Students for Global Citizenship at Brookdale
Berenice & Gladis' Water Campaign
Parker's Campaign for Water
Brownie Troop 1900 Campaign for Water
Zoe's Campaign for Water
Tyler Williams' Kingdom Working Page

And 4 other fundraising page(s)
2 individual donor(s)

Want to start your own campaign? Learn more »

Country Details

Sierra Leone

Population: 9.7 Million
Lacking clean water: 47%
Below poverty line: 70%

Partner Profile

Mariatu’s Hope works with vulnerable communities and individuals to inspire hope through Maternal Care, Infant Nutrition, Safe Water Access, Proper Sanitation and Health and Hygiene promotion.